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A Volcanic Labyrinth

  • Posted 01.03.13
  • NOVA

Thrihnukagigur crater is the only place on Earth where the anatomy of a volcano can be studied from the inside. When geologists journeyed into its heart, they discovered that a network of fissures links together distant volcanoes.

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Launch Video Running Time: 02:59

Transcript

Doomsday Volcanoes

PBS Airdate: January 2, 2013

NARRATOR: After squeezing through the neck, they're confronted with an amazing sight: …

SIGRUN HREINSDÓTTIR (University of Iceland): Wow! Look at that.

FREYSTEINN SIGMUNDSSON: Yeah. It's beautiful.

NARRATOR: … a vast chamber, dropping 450 feet below the surface. Four thousand years ago, when the magma drained, the chamber remained remarkably intact. It's the only place on Earth where scientists can study a volcano from the inside.

FREYSTEINN SIGMUNDSSON: Amazing.

NARRATOR: Freysteinn is looking for evidence of how volcanoes like this are fed by molten rock. It's been something of a mystery, until now.

FREYSTEINN SIGMUNDSSON: Look at this. Can you see the fracture?

SIGRUN HREINSDÓTTIR: Wow. It's actually really cool how it goes up.

FREYSTEINN SIGMUNDSSON: This is an absolutely unique place. It is fantastic. We can see the fissures that fed magma into this volcano. This black line in the wall, it's a crack that delivered magma to the eruption. Now the magma is solidified in this fissure.

NARRATOR: This fissure acted like a giant vein, pumping magma into the chamber horizontally, as well as from deep below.

FREYSTEINN SIGMUNDSSON: What is so special is we can clearly see it, both sides.

NARRATOR: The fissure sliced right through the chamber and out the other side, and Freysteinn is working out which direction it took.

FREYSTEINN SIGMUNDSSON: If you trace it, you get the orientation of this crack.

NARRATOR: By lining up the fissure on either side of the chamber, the team finds the exact route it took and make an important discovery.

FREYSTEINN SIGMUNDSSON: What we have found is that they can go on for many miles. They're like thin sheets. They can link different volcanoes.

NARRATOR: So, although volcanoes appear isolated on the surface, fissures carrying magma, can link them underground. And that's an important consideration in trying to predict which of Iceland's volcanoes might erupt next.

Credits

PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY
Duncan Copp
EDITED BY
Christy Hanna
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Alex Sutherland
CAMERA
Jay Dacey
Toby Wilkinson
Keith Ingram
SOUND RECORDISTS
Stephen Horwood
Skuli Helgi Siguergislason
NARRATED BY
Demetri Goritsas
VISUAL EFFECTS
DSP VFX
PRODUCTION MANAGER
Pete Hirst
ONLINE EDITOR
Jean-Paul Vial
COLORIST
Mike Curd
AUDIO MIX
Adam Wood
ASSISTANT PRODUCER
Ed Watkins
PRODUCTION SECRETARY
Emily Wilkinson
ARCHIVE RESEARCH
Jack Penman
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Ágúst Guðbjörnsson
AP Archive
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NASA
Peter Cox
Peter Vancoillie
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WGBH
SPECIAL THANKS
Broadway Tower
Sheila Wilkes
St. Barnabas Church
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yU + co.
NOVA THEME MUSIC
Walter Werzowa
John Luker
Musikvergnuegen, Inc.
ADDITIONAL NOVA THEME MUSIC
Ray Loring
Rob Morsberger
POST PRODUCTION ONLINE EDITOR
Spencer Gentry
CLOSED CAPTIONING
The Caption Center
MARKETING AND PUBLICITY
Karen Laverty
PUBLICITY
Eileen Campion
Victoria Louie
SENIOR RESEARCHER
Kate Becker
NOVA ADMINISTRATOR
Kristen Sommerhalter
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Linda Callahan
PARALEGAL
Sarah Erlandson
TALENT RELATIONS
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Janice Flood
LEGAL COUNSEL
Susan Rosen
DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION
Rachel Connolly
DIGITAL PROJECTS MANAGER
Kristine Allington
DIRECTOR OF NEW MEDIA
Lauren Aguirre
POST PRODUCTION ASSISTANT
Brittany Flynn
POST PRODUCTION EDITOR
Rebecca Nieto
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Nathan Gunner
COMPLIANCE MANAGER
Linzy Emery
BUSINESS MANAGER
Elizabeth Benjes
DEVELOPMENT PRODUCER
David Condon
PROJECT DIRECTOR
Pamela Rosenstein
COORDINATING PRODUCER
Laurie Cahalane
SENIOR SCIENCE EDITOR
Evan Hadingham
SENIOR PRODUCERS
Julia Cort
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SENIOR SERIES PRODUCER
Melanie Wallace
MANAGING DIRECTOR
Alan Ritsko
SENIOR EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Paula S. Apsell

Produced by Darlow Smithson Productions Ltd. for NOVA/WGBH Boston in association with Channel 5

© 2013 Darlow Smithson Productions Ltd.

All rights reserved

Additional Material © 2013 WGBH Educational Foundation

Image

(Thrihnukagigur crater, Iceland)
© WGBH Educational Foundation

Participants

Freysteinn Sigmundsson
Nordic Volcanological Center

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